Two suspected smugglers of undocumented immigrants have been arrested on suspicion of leaving a pregnant woman to die in the Otay Mountains in Southeastern San Diego County.
Fernando Armenta-Romero and Carlos Hernandez-Palma made their first appearance in U.S. District Court Wednesday on charges of bringing an illegal alien resulting in death.
Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against the two, alleging they were paid $12,000 last December to smuggle a 32-year-old woman into the United States from Mexico. The woman, identified as Jaqueline Capistran-Ochoa, was about 12 weeks pregnant.
The woman’s husband, Baltazar Razo-Barreto, made arrangements with the smugglers to be brought illegally into the U.S. in an expected one-to-two-day trip.
Prosecutors said the smugglers assured the couple that the route did not have arduous terrain since the woman’s health was a concern.
The group entered California by climbing a U.S.-Mexico boundary fence in Tijuana, Mexico., and prosecutors said the terrain was especially mountainous and Capistran-Ochoa required frequent breaks.
“Ms. Capistran told Mr. Razo that she felt like there was water in her lungs and she was having a hard time breathing. Soon, she was unable to walk at all,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
After three days, on Dec. 29, Capistran was unresponsive, so her husband left her with the men and went to seek help. He eventually found and contacted a Border Patrol agent for help.
When they returned to the area in the Otay Mountains, unfortunately, it was too late.
“Ms. Capistran had died and was left along a trail in the mountains. Carlos and Armenta were gone,” the news release said. “They had hiked out of the mountains two days before and called Armenta’s brother to pick them up.”
A medical examiner ruled that her death was hyperglycemia and ketoacidosis due to diabetes and hypothermia.
A detention hearing for Armenta-Romero and Hernandez-Palma has been set for Sept. 9.